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Is stabilization worth the hefty price?

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#1 ET_PhoneHome

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 12:02 PM

I have a pair of Minolta 12x50 binos that I got a long time ago.  They are OK, but just too shaky.  I'm assuming it's because they are 12x.  Anyway, I'm looking for a better pair of binos for casual backyward observing (light pollution is a factor), and I thought out some IS binos.  From what I see, they are all very pricey.  It's hard to justify spending as much or more than my 6" Celestron SCT on a pair of binos.  I'm wondering—is the price tag worth it?

 

Also, Canon seems to be the big player in this market segment.  The thing that worries me with them is, I've seen many reviews where users says the outside coating gets sticky and basically starts melting off.  Is this common?  How is something like this acceptable for such an expensive piece of equipment?

 

Finally, maybe I'd be better off getting a nice pair of non-IS binos?  I'm thinking I need to go lower mag, like 10x or 8x?  Any suggestions welcome!



#2 drt3d

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 12:12 PM

It is worth it for me.

 

I have the Canon 10x42 that I really like and use it for daylight too.

 

I need stabilization even at 8x. Maybe 5x is OK handheld for me, but anything higher I enjoy a lot more with some kind of support. You test this for yourself. Put a target, some kind of label with letters, and see if you can read the text from a distance while handholding the binoculars vs. on solid support. You will see the difference.

 

There are other options as well, ways to use the binoculars to reduce jitter. It can be something drastic as mounted on a tripod, various kinds of parallelogram mounts, monopods, special binocular harnesses, etc. But with stabilized binoculars you have very nicely stabilized view with the maximum amount of freedom and the least amount of hassle.

 

George


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#3 edwincjones

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 12:18 PM

some like them, some do not

 

I got a pair of 12x36s to see if I liked them,

kept them for a year or two, and went back to non-IS

 

In that year or two I was impressed by the quality of optics and IS

was not impressed by ergonomics/boxiness 

 

just depends on your personal preference

compared to the price of the higher end non IS, the price is reasonable

 

edj


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#4 Xeroid

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 12:23 PM

Just my opinion but you could improve your observation sessions by using a bino parallelogram mount while reducing your expense..

 

I built one and it was very easy and inexpensive, approx $20 for the Oak hardwood + hardware.  There are many good designs here on CN.

 

Get yourself a Zero Gravity chair and a few cold ones and you'll be set for several hourssmile.gif

 

Oh and by the way, your not limited to using your existing bino pair..

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Edited by Xeroid, 26 July 2020 - 12:27 PM.

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#5 Taosmath

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 12:27 PM

I have a pair of rather old 15x45 IS.

 

When the IS kicks in I feel I can see fainter stars than I can see before it activates, so I like mine.

 

Image quality looks good to me, but I suspect I'm not very discriminating about that.

 

Colin


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#6 sg6

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 12:39 PM

Not much of an answer:

Have tried Canon IS binoculars and they were good, very good.

Would I spend the money, No.

 

However a good set of unstabilized is likey fairly close in cost. A set of Minox I tried I was well impressed with but a good set of those are up at the £900 mark here. So it could end up as simple budget, and where do you want to spend that budget.

 

But 8x are fairly stable to hand hold but stars still bounce around a little, but a lot less then 12x.

 

I will stick with my inexpensive Bushnell's, the Natureviews work good enough for these somewhat second rate eyes I use them with. crazyeyes.gif



#7 ArsMachina

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 12:58 PM

A single word: YES

I love them since I own them (20 years

Many other astro stuff came and is gone the Canon 15x50 IS is still with me.

It is something like the "only instrument you need" :-)

 

And there is no hazzle with tripods, parallelogram mounts and other bulky stuff.

Just grab them and have fun, even if it is a short session for just some minutes.

 

And they are also very nice at daylight no matter if you are observing birds in your yard or are hiking.

I just love them!

 

Jochen


Edited by ArsMachina, 26 July 2020 - 01:02 PM.

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#8 Alan French

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 01:12 PM

To me the IS is well worth the price, and has gotten more valuable as I've gotten older. 

 

I have been a birder and amateur astronomer for more than 60 years, and have considered binoculars necessary for each. In 2001 I treated myself to a pair of high end 7x42s as my main birding glass and for its wide 8-degree view of the night sky. Just a month later we bought my father-in-law a pair of Canon 10x30 IS. I used them occasionally when we were up in the Adirondacks and really liked them. In 2004 my wife gave me a pair of Canon 12x36 IS IIs for Christmas. They very quickly became my main birding glass and got used for a fair amount of astronomy. A steady 12x view provides better views of birds, easier IDs, and shows more in the night sky. (I did try the tripod route, first with 14x70 and later with 16x70 binoculars, but decided I preferred a simpler, mount free approach.) 

 

As I've gotten older I have more trouble holding 7 and 8x binoculars steady, so I appreciate the Canon IS even more. I replaced the 12x36 with the newer 12x32 and have also had the 15x50 IS for several years. I have kept the 7x42s for the wide true field, which can be handy, but they don't get much use. 

 

Clear skies, Alan


Edited by Alan French, 26 July 2020 - 01:13 PM.

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#9 Tdesert63

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 01:17 PM

Save your money,just put your binos on a tripod
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#10 stargazer193857

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 01:41 PM

Worth it for plenty of people. More freedom than a tripod.

I've never tried it. I prefer 2-8x binos and then I go to mounted telescopes from there.
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#11 Windowspy

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 01:48 PM

Canon 15x50 IS are amazing but tiring to hold. Love mine and use them for all sorts of long distance viewing! Can see Jupiter’s moon clearly with them from my NYC apartment window, and out in the Catskills where light pollution is almost non-existent, they are amazing.

I’ve also tried the new Canon 12x32 IS. The new stabilization mode is REALLY amazing for viewing stars. If almost recommend them over the 15x50! Easier to hold, half the weight, and the two stabilization modes are each well suited to their roles.
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#12 ET_PhoneHome

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 01:58 PM

Thanks for the replies, all.  Anyone have experience with the "melting" rubber phenomenon?  I see there is another thread going in this forum where it's discussed.  Sounds like it's a real issue.  Makes me very hesitant to spend so much.



#13 Alan French

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 02:25 PM

Thanks for the replies, all.  Anyone have experience with the "melting" rubber phenomenon?  I see there is another thread going in this forum where it's discussed.  Sounds like it's a real issue.  Makes me very hesitant to spend so much.

The 10x30s we bought in late 2001 look like new, no problem with the covering. 

 

My 12x36 IIs, purchased in late 2004, started having some "melting" around the on/off button perhaps two years ago, so after ~14 years of use. 

 

I'm not sure when I got the 15x50s, likely 5 or 6 years ago, and they are fine. 

 

Clear skies, Alan



#14 ArsMachina

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 02:27 PM

I did read a lot about the "melting" rubber phenomenon.

It is definitively there at some people but regarding the numbers of sold Canon IS binoculars it is probably very rare.

My 15x50 are over 20 years old and the rubber is like new.

 

Jochen



#15 Windowspy

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 03:49 PM

I think the melting phenomenon depends on both the age of the binoculars and what you do with them. Most newer owners seem very satisfied. The melting horror stories seem to come from the early 2000s up until 2009.

Edited by Windowspy, 26 July 2020 - 04:26 PM.


#16 Steve Cox

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:36 PM

I take the money saved and put into a good tripod or monopod, or both.  Just as stable and much more comfortable allowing me to view for long periods without my arms getting tired or neck getting sore.



#17 Yarddog

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:45 PM

I don't think I have ever looked through an image stabilized binocular. I bet I have a dozen digital cameras and lenses with it and the price is not much if any more than regular ones.

 

If you are wealthy I think it would be nice. If you are not, like me, it is just something to want but probably never have.


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#18 organge

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:53 PM

Yes.



#19 Tony Flanders

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:59 PM

I adore my image-stabilized 10x30s; in fact they might be my most-used binoculars. But I bought them on when the price was reduced; I'm not sure that I would pay the current price of around $550.

 

Likewise, having borrowed the image-stabilized 15x50s and used them extensively, I know they would serve an important function for me -- namely, the most potent possible instrument that doesn't need a tripod. But again, I have never been able to justify spending the requesite $1,050 -- so I just let that particular niche go unfilled.

 

So the answer to your unasked question is "yes, image stabilization is immensely valuable." Whether it's worth the price to you, only you can answer.


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#20 Tony Flanders

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 05:02 PM

I take the money saved and put into a good tripod or monopod, or both.  Just as stable and much more comfortable allowing me to view for long periods without my arms getting tired or neck getting sore.

I find image-stabilized binocular vastly -- unspeakably -- more comfortable for viewing anything more than 30 degrees above the horizon.

 

However, a tripod is indisputably stabler. Not by a huge margin, but perceptibly.


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#21 Alan French

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 05:10 PM

I've tried a number of binocular mounts, from simple tripods to parallelogram mounts to strange monstrosities, and none approached the ease and comfort of IS binoculars from a good reclining lawn chair. 

 

Clear skies, Alan


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#22 Steve Cox

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 05:12 PM

Oh yes, a zero gravity chair is a must whichever bino one chooses.



#23 Mr. Bill

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 05:49 PM

Just my opinion but you could improve your observation sessions by using a bino parallelogram mount while reducing your expense..

 

I built one and it was very easy and inexpensive, approx $20 for the Oak hardwood + hardware.  There are many good designs here on CN.

 

Get yourself a Zero Gravity chair and a few cold ones and you'll be set for several hourssmile.gif

 

Oh and by the way, your not limited to using your existing bino pair..

Hard to pack that p-mount in a suitcase when on the road and having high magnification that can be hand held.

 

The more I use my Canon15x50s, both terrestrial and astronomical, the more I appreciate them. 

 

Been great to step outside with the Canons without other equipment and sweep up NEOWISE with a wonderful steady view.


Edited by Mr. Bill, 26 July 2020 - 05:53 PM.

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#24 oldmanrick

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 09:16 PM

I've owned my Canon 18X50 for about 10 years, and it has become my most used bino.  Basically replaces both a spotting scope and 10X42 fixed power binoculars for hunting.  If I'm hiking much, I'll take the Nikon 8X20 that fits in a shirt pocket.

 

The 18X50 IS is great for astro use too, but I've recently been spoiled by the much larger mounted Lunt and APM models.

 

IMHO, the IS feature is well worth the cost.

 

Rick 


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#25 ET_PhoneHome

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 10:57 PM

Well, I decided to grab a pair of Oberwerk 9x60s for now.  I've never really used binos much for astronomy.  Guess I've always been more of a scope kind of guy.  Anyway, for 100 bucks, I figure these will be good to see if I even like using binos.  I am all about convenience, so that is one big thing binos have going for them.  I have a big, cumbersom 5" refractor, but the scope I usually grab is my Celestron 6SE.  I shouldn't complain because it's not really a big deal to set up and align, but it's not as simple as just grabbing a pair of binos and plopping down in a comfy seat.

 

If I do end up liking the binos, maybe a monopod is in my future, and then possibly some IS peepers later on.




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